I Ran a (half) Marathon (part 1.)

I did it! Race day has come and gone and now I’m excited to reflect and look to what’s next.

Running a half marathon has been on my to do list for a while, but I was hesitant to pull the trigger and actually sign up for it. Some of that hesitation came from not wanting to invest the time. Not only to run (which can becomes lengthy on the weekend or whenever you can squeeze it in) but also for the recovery and maintenance. It is a significant time investment all the way around.

The other piece of the puzzle was that the last time I ran a half (14 years ago? It was before I had Ashtyn so it’s been at least that long) I did not recover well. At all. It took days. For all the pride I felt at completion it was gone because I was so damn miserable after the fact.

So this time, when I decided that running a half was one of the activities to be included on my before 40 list, I knew that I needed to approach it with a different mindset. I do believe that is one of the major things that made all the difference. Mindset and better knowledge of my body and all the nuances that are attached.

Since this is a two-part series I’m going to talk about mindset today, and in part two I’ll address what I did differently that I think made the rest of the difference.

My mindset going into running a half was that I was going to train to get to race day injury-free. Even if all I made time for in a week was one run, I could not skip my long runs. Period. Then the goal was to show up at the race and finish. That is where I started.

I had long toyed around with wanting this to be a “destination” run.

I live 5800 ft above sea-level… I can train at home then go down a few thousand feet and crush it. Also, adventuring in another state. But when I factored in having to travel, not sleeping in my own bed, not necessarily having 100% control over the food I’m eating and knowing that when I do travel sometimes my guts get a little annoyed; all of a sudden just running at home seemed a bit more significant then the ability to shave a few minutes off my time and visit somewhere new.

When it came time to select my race I factored in- how much elevation gain there might be, and when was the race going to happen. I am still a fair-weather runner. I’m not running outside in the snow (and especially the wind) and I’m not running more than 3 miles on a treadmill. I’d rather watch paint dry. So backing into a date that made sense was impacted by the weather. Colorado had a very crazy spring, so there were moments that it was funky but overall I was still able to make it work for me.

The Half that I chose was on the 4th of July. I didn’t think we had anything going on that day, and usually in terms of work it’s a light week for me because people like taking their vacations around then. Plenty of chance to rest and recover. Once I had that date dialed in I went online and got a training guide from Hal Higdon and backed it in from there.

I had dates, I knew how many miles I would need to log before my race, and I looked ahead at my calendar to see if there were any time that I might run into “conflict” with training. There were a couple, but I was able to sort them out ahead of time. A younger or different version of me probably would have just skipped that week. This version did not miss one “long” training run. It wasn’t an option.

Before I started training I think I had run maybe twice since the previous summer. I maintain enough baseline fitness throughout the year to not be dead from a 4 mile run, but regular runner of any sort I was not.

Completing this race was more about putting in the work, seeing it to completion, and crossing that finish line without injury. That meant more to me then a PR or record. I train runners, I see what they put themselves through in order to finish. I am also stubborn as a mule and don’t like to half-ass things. The version of this body that I currently live in requires more care, and in training for this half it is one of the few times I felt that I gave it the care it deserves. Is it perfect, hell no. But it’s certainly better than it has been in the past.

I made a commitment.

To myself.

I held up my end of that commitment.

Not sure if I should admit this here, but that is a skill that I struggle with. I’m great at starting multiple endeavors but usually shit at seeing them through. This though, I saw from preconception to the grand finale. Injury free and finishing under my goal time of two hours and thirty minutes.

I was so happy with it that I think I’m going to run a half on Labor Day as well. I’m already primed, and it takes off from the park across the street from our house. I’ve run that route a time or two… I know I can do it. I know I can improve even marginally without injury. I think 2:25 is possible, and how would I know if I don’t make an attempt at it? I don’t know that this will be a forever thing, but for now why not take what I’ve learned and continue to see the growth?

Stay tuned for part II, all the things I did wrong the first time, and how I changed it up this time around.


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